Jeju City, South Korea

                                                               Jeju Harbor

April 7, 2010

Jeju City is the capital of Jejudo Province, South Korea, on the island of Jeju, off the southern end of the South Korean peninsula.  It is situated in the path of a warm current, so the climate is similar to Southern California.  Jeju is a beautiful island, of volcanic origin and therefore very rocky.  The Koreans are a resourceful people and have used the rock to make dry stack walls, which delineate individual fields, and also their burial areas (to keep the cows from desecrating the graves of revered ancestors).  The part of the island we saw, along the coast, is hilly, so the agricultural land is terraced.  The terraces and walls form pretty patterns.  

The harbor is a busy one with container ships, barges, and ferries.  We were docked in the ferry’s space, so our ship had to leave very promptly to allow the ferry to dock on time.

Our excursion took us to the Hallim Weaver area, which had once been home to some Irish priests and nuns.  The area contains the Hyeojope and Ssangyong caves, which are part of the grounds of the Hallim Tropical Park.  The caves were originally formed by lava flows, but have become combination lava and limestone caves that have stalactites and stalagmites.  The park also includes the Jae-Am folk village, a replica of a traditional Korean village, and a small bird garden.  The botanical garden portion has an an avenue of palms, a water garden which includes some great topiaries like this flamingo, which uses pyracantha berries to great advantage.  There is also a stone and bonsai garden, which is the best exhibit they have.  There are many gorgeous bonsai trees, in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, along with some very unique stones.  One interesting use of bonsai is a couple of wisteria vines that they are growing into an arch formation.  The topiaries are of multiple kinds of animals, and are scattered around the park.

The bird garden has some interesting birds like pheasants, but the best is the albino peacocks.  Even though the males do not have ‘eyes’ on their tail feathers they are still magnificent when they are displaying.

Following the Tropical Park, we stopped briefly at the beach to take photos before heading back to the pier.  Our bus driver stopped the engine at the mysterious road and let it draw us up the hill.  While there are all sorts of legends about the road, it is most likely an optical illusion.

According to our tour guide, Korea does not have any kind of special craft or product they are known for.  They are best known as a hard-working people.  They used to make a lot of silk, but they now make much less and it is very expensive and therefore used only for very special items like wedding dresses.  There are ponies on the island which are similar to the famous Chincoteague ponies, but apparently they are mostly found inland.  We enjoyed our time in Jeju and would be interested in seeing more of the island.                                    

                                                                    Bonsai Tree                           

© Susan L. Stone 2015